Reframing story as a fundamental information form

Kate McDowell
Kate McDowell, Associate Professor

According to Associate Professor Kate McDowell, story is an important but often overlooked form of information. In her article, "Storytelling Wisdom: Story, Information, and DIKW," which was recently published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), McDowell calls for a new way of thinking about the DIKW pyramid. In her S-DIKW framework, story is connected to each of the fundamental information forms—data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

"Most LIS and IS research focuses on individuals as information seekers," she said. "Storytelling centers audiences as groups and so opens new vistas of research into group information experience."

The new framework proposed by McDowell looks not only at information but also at the stories people tell and retell as a fundamental way of communicating information.

"When S-DIKW is enacted in future research, story and storytelling offer a starting point for powerful explanations of collective information experiences, analyzing how information-as-story contributes to group belief and belonging as well as comparison and contrast of story and misinformation," said McDowell. "All of these areas are vital to understanding basic information dynamics, such as why people retell stories (whether true or false), and how researchers can acknowledge information in story form not only as socially situated but also as a dynamic product of social exchange."

McDowell's storytelling research has involved training collaborations with advancement with both the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Illinois system (Chicago, Springfield), storytelling consulting work for multiple nonprofits including the 50th anniversary of the statewide Prairie Rivers Network that protects Illinois water, and storytelling lectures for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). McDowell formerly served as interim associate dean for academic affairs and assistant dean for student affairs at the iSchool at Illinois, and she has led multiple transformative projects for the School. She also researches and publishes in the areas of storytelling at work, social justice storytelling, and what library storytelling can teach the information sciences about data storytelling. McDowell holds both an MS and PhD in library and information science from Illinois.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Cheng and Lee receive dissertation fellowships

PhD students Jessica Cheng and Lo Lee have been awarded Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships from the Beta Phi Mu Honor Society. The $3,000 fellowship supports students who are working on their dissertations in library and information science, information studies, informatics, or a related field.

Dubin and Kilicoglu named NCSA Faculty Fellows

Teaching Associate Professor David Dubin and Associate Professor Halil Kilicoglu have been named National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellows for the 2021-22 academic year. This competitive program for faculty and researchers at the University of Illinois provides seed funding for new projects that include NCSA staff as integral contributors to the research.

Bonn elected ASIS&T director-at-large

Maria Bonn, associate professor and director of the MS/LIS and CAS programs, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). She will begin her three-year term immediately following the ASIS&T Annual Meeting, which will be held from October 29-November 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Maria Bonn

New project uses empathy to teach students about cybersecurity and AI ethics

While empathy is important in almost every aspect of daily life, it is not always a priority in the development of technology, especially technology using artificial intelligence (AI). iSchool researchers are working to address this gap by using empathy to teach high school students about cybersecurity and AI ethics issues. Led by Associate Professor Yang Wang, the project, "Teaching High School Students about Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence Ethics via Empathy-Driven Hands-On Projects," has received a two-year, $297,575 National Science Foundation (NSF) Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER). Assistant Professor Yun Huang; Pilyoung Kim, associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver; and Tom Yeh, associate professor of computer science at the University of Colorado Boulder, will serve as co-principal investigators.

Yang Wang

Desai to discuss using smart speakers as learning partners at CUI 2021

PhD student Smit Desai will discuss his research with Assistant Professor Jessie Chin at the ACM Conversational User Interfaces conference (CUI 2021), which will be held virtually from July 27-29. The goal of the conference is "to further develop a collaborative community around human-computer interaction issues in speech and language technology, with a specific interest in theory-based and applied scientific issues in the field of speech and text-based conversational user interfaces."

Smit Desai